Tag: Documentary

2019, Movies

The Panama Papers (2018, Alex Winter)

This is a rather workmanlike documentary about the infamous “Panama Papers” which exposed a Panamanian bank’s tax evasion services for the super rich and for politicians. I watched it on a plane three weeks ago so I am not 100% sure of my comments.

2014, Movies

Children 404 (2014, Askold Kurov, Pavel Loparev)

Ever since we all started recording ourselves, there has been an absolute trove of material for filmmakers to use to cover basically any subject they want. I don’t know when this started exactly, but I feel like this must have been one of the earlier films to take full advantage of this new facet of …

2007, Movies

Chicago 10 (2007, Brett Morgan)

The trial of 10 people after the demonstrations outside the 1968 Democratic Convention is certainly a notable trial in the history of civil liberties abuses in the United States. And it is a story that deserves to be told. But I’m not sure if this ADD movie is the right vehicle for it. Moreover, it …

2016, Movies, TV

OJ: Made in America (2016, Ezra Edelman)

I must say I paid relatively little attention to the OJ trial. I think I watched the car chase and I remember our French teacher bringing in the TV to watch the verdict, but that’s about it. My memory of the entire case is more about perceptions of what other people thought rather than facts. …

2018, Movies

Free Solo (2018, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

I thought I wanted to see this movie in theatres. Watching it on the small screen, I think I’m okay with not seeing it in theatres. I’m not sure I would have been able to watch some of it in theatres because I have a fear of heights. SPOILERS if you don’t know anything at …

2015, Movies

Danny Says (2015, Brendan Toller)

This is a fascinating documentary about a journalist/publicist/manager/etc. from New York who was tangentially involved in the careers of a number of major bands, from the Beatles to the Ramones. If you’re interested in the history of popular music, particularly punk, or if you’re interested in New York in the late 1960s and the 1970s, …

1990, Movies, Uncategorized

Central Park (1990, Frederick Wiseman)

Wiseman documentaries are a bit of a challenge if you’re in the wrong mood but at least when you’re in a theatre you have no distractions and you must confront the film without focusing on anything else. Watching one at home is a real challenge because it’s so easy to find something else to pay …

1967, 2015, Movies

Censored Voices (2015, Mor Loushy)

This is a compelling and moving documentary with a relatively novel format, which may not initially seem compelling but which is well worth your time. The film tells the story of Israeli soldiers’ experiences during the Six Day War through audio recordings made just after the war, which were suppressed by the Israeli government for …

2019, Movies

Fyre (2019, Chris Smith)

This is a fascinating film about the disastrous Fyre Festival that we all heard about on social media. It’s a classic story of the problem with “fake it until you make it” mentality of entrepreneurship. If you’ve watched or read anything about fraud, you’ve probably heard this story before. But it’s also about the problems …

2010, Movies

Catfish (2010, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman)

Yes, I realize I’m getting to Catfish 8 years too late. In the meantime, there’s a show and the term has entered the lexicon. I.e. I know what this is about. So whatever shock I would have experienced seeing it when it first came out is obviously gone. This is unfortunate but hopefully it doesn’t …

2010, Movies

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is an episodic yet frenetic documentary about Jack Abramoff and his lobbying scandal. I can’t say I loved the style of the film, which was a little over-reliant on pop culture cues, but the film takes a serious issue and makes it entertaining, which is something that should be commended.

2014, Movies

The Case Against 8 (2014, Ben Cotner, Ryan White)

So any pretense to “objectivity” for a message movie “documentary” like this is thrown out the window. But if you believe there is a “both sides” to marriage equality you are likely not going to watch this documentary about the law suit to overturn California’s infamous Proposition 8, nor will you accept this film, which …

2018, Movies

Screwball (2018, Billy Corben)

If I could describe this documentary about Biogenesis and Alex Rodriguez in one word, it would be “glib.” This is one of the glibbest documentaries I’ve ever seen. On the one hand, that makes for a pretty funny movie. On the other hand, the style is very over the top and the filmmakers appear to …

2018, TV

Wild Wild Country (2018)

This is a crazy story about a cult, but not necessarily the kind of cult you might expect (i.e. not a death cult). Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is how much film there is of the cult.  But the film is problematic; to paraphrase one critic, it’s incredible that at over six hours …

2018, TV

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (2018, Barbara Schroeder)

This is a documentary miniseries about an absolutely bonkers crime, which shouldn’t be called America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist, but rather American’s Craziest Bank Heist, or America’s Worst Bank Heist. If you are interested in true crime, I would strongly recommend watching this, both for how it tells the story and how this particularly story – …

2018, Movies

McQueen (2018, Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui)

This is a pretty conventional chronology + historical footage + talking heads style documentary about someone who may have been, in my ignorant opinion, one of the most interesting fashion designers in history. I know nothing about fashion, and I really don’t care about it. It was only in adulthood that I discovered that there …

2009, Movies

Carcasses (2009, Denis Côté)

Carcasses is part of that trend in Canadian independent film in the early years of the 20th century to mix documentary style with fictional or plots, sometimes with people playing themselves. (I say Canadian trend because most of the films I have seen that do this are Canadian films from this time, or thereabouts.  I …

2012, Movies

Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police (2012, Andy Grieve, Lauren Lazin)

This is a fascinating and compelling documentary about guitarist Andy Summers’ life, focusing mostly on his time in The Police.

2012, Movies

Call Me Kuchu (2012, Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall)

This is an absolutely devastating documentary about the situation for LGBTQ people in Uganda and the fight to make homosexuality legal again (as it wasn’t illegal until 1984 for me and 2000 for women). SPOILERS (though that’s obviously a relatively silly thing to say for a documentary about something you can just google)

2016, Movies

Cameraperson (2016, Kirsten Johnson)

When we’re watching movies, I think most of us never really think about the shots and scenes that got left “on the cutting room floor.” Unless we’re absolutely obsessed with a particular movie or filmmaker, most people don’t buy or watch the outtakes of most movies. Most of us accept the finished film as is, …

2010, Movies

Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010, Craig McCall)

Cameraman is a fascinating but idiosyncratic look at one of the first technicolor cameramen in film, the first person to be awarded a lifetime achievement Oscar for cinematography.

2013, Movies

Buying Sex (2013, Teresa MacInnes, Kent Nason)

This documentary about prostitution in Canada is a little brief, a little low-budget, and a little too reliant on talking heads, but overall it is extremely nuanced and well worth your time if you are interested in laws and policies about prostitution, or about gender equality.

2017, Music

Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World (2017, Barry Avrich)

This is an engaging, thought-provoking documentary about the state of the art world in the 21st century (especially post Great Recession) that is perhaps a little too hyper-stylized for its own good.

2002, Movies

Ônibus 174 (2002, José Padilha, Felipe Lacerda)

Bus 174 is a low-budget, overlong documentary about a bizarre hostage-taking incident in Brazil that was watched by the country on the news. The story itself is compelling in many ways but the actual film about the incident is kind of a mess. We might call it “completist” as it’s a 2.5 hour movie about …

2009, Movies

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2009, Anders Ostergaard)

Burma VJ is one of those journalism-as-documentary films that is out of date pretty quickly after it is made – the military regime that is depicted in this film has fallen and a new, less repressive and supposedly democratic regime has taken its place. But just because things have happened since this film was made, …

2017, TV

The Keepers (2017, Ryan White)

The Keepers is a fascinating, moving, infuriating and ultimately frustrating true crime documentary mini series both about who killed a nun in 1969 but, also, on a larger level, the moral corruption of the Catholic Church and the government authorities who have protected the Church or at least ignored complaints against it. HUGE SPOILERS but …